An audience of about 300 filled the Davidson Auditorium April 13 to enjoy the third annual OWLIE Awards, an event quickly becoming a cherished tradition at the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
The story begins in 2014 with an art event that brought Wise, a mirrored stainless steel owl sculpture by Dallas artist Brad Oldham, to the JSOM courtyard. That installation coincided with an idea that the Dean’s Council had at the time to instill a new tradition at the Jindal School. Student leaders and administrators wanted to begin recognizing outstanding students, alumni; faculty, staff, mentors, employers and groups at an awards ceremony.
The students adopted the owl as their mascot and set about building the new tradition. They named it the OWLIE Awards — the acronym stands for “Outstanding, Worthy Leaders, Involved Exceptionally” — in recognition of JSOM community members who have provided that level of leadership and service on behalf of the school.
Jindal School students, faculty and staff have embraced the annual event, as evidenced by the increased numbers of nominations every year:
Students in the Dean’s Council run the event almost entirely on their own, with some help from Dr. Monica Powell, senior associate dean of the Jindal School and faculty advisor for the OWLIE Awards. This year, highlights included a video welcome from UT Dallas President Dr. Richard Benson, live music by students, energetic banter from masters of ceremony Rachel Scruggs and Vikas Ponnuru and a flash mob that danced to a mashup of AC/DC’s Back in Black and Queen’s We Will Rock You.
Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Caruth Chair and dean of the Jindal School, presented the awards, trophy replicas of the Wise sculpture, to the winners.
Powell explained that the student leaders involved with the event have taken to heart what it means to give back.
“They’re doing it not for themselves; they’re doing it for the school,” she said. “That’s that part of the OWLIES that I love. It says to everybody that great things are happening here. You’re in this great place at this great time where we can celebrate each other’s success.”
Powell said that the success exhibited by the students is going to manifest itself when they transition from academic to work life. “The small examples of leadership that we recognize here in the OWLIES will soon be substantial contributions in leadership in the corporate world.”
This award recognizes both an UNDERGRADUATE and GRADUATE student who demonstrate the capacity to lead others. This student displays a strong commitment to individual growth and to the growth of others. This individual demonstrates the drive, determination and mindset of a CEO.
This award recognizes a member of the JSOM community (faculty, staff, teaching assistant or student) who has demonstrated excellence in mentoring, encouraging and promoting the educational, professional, and personal development of JSOM students.
To recognize both UNDERGRADUATE and GRADUATE STUDENT in JSOM who has won hearts through their selfless acts of service to others and/or their community.
This award is presented to a faculty member for excellence in teaching, advising, mentoring and/or supporting students. This individual contributes to the enhancement of the learning experience for students in JSOM.
This award is presented to a student who contributes to the growth of the JSOM brand. This individual is a strong representative of the school in the academic, community and/or corporate world, excelling in academic performance and/or scholarly pursuits.
This award recognizes a student leader of a registered JSOM organization who has demonstrated a high level of leadership ability through character, work ethic and involvement.
This award recognizes the JSOM student organization that has made a significant contribution to the school and student body through service, programs, and activities.
This award is presented to a JSOM alumnus who has distinguished him- or herself through excellence in supporting JSOM students.
Identified by the Jindal School Career Management Center, nominated employers must have hired students for both internships and final placement positions, and helped to support the professional development of students.
Nominees must be active members of the Dean’s Council in the Jindal School, providing leadership and support for all the activities of the council.